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Funerals at a time of covid_cemetery stone

The recent onset of the COVID-19 virus has required us to make immediate life changes. One that has caught many of us by surprise, is the limiting of funeral participation to only ten people.

Funeral services, a long-held ritual, provide an opportunity to not only publicly acknowledge our loss, but to honor the life of the person who died and receive expressions of care from others.  The inability to publicly honor the life of someone you love and to receive expressions of care from others in these days has its own grief.

People in every age and culture have used rituals to help make sense of the experiences of their lives and to give those experiences deeper meaning. Rituals make space for our questions, feelings and longings. They connect us to something larger than ourselves, invoking a higher force to be with us.

Though we are challenged to continue these important funeral rituals, we need not give up. Families, funeral homes and places of worship are finding creative ways to include extended family and friends in funeral services. Many are streaming services via social media outlets. Some are having others provide recordings of readings, music or stories so that many more people can participate in the funeral.

Or, you could create your own ritual. All you need for a meaningful ritual, whether alone or with those in your household, is the intention, a clear beginning and end, and the creation of sacred space. This will be easier than you might think, but preparation is important.

Begin with reflecting on how this person impacted your life.

  • How is your life different because this person was in it?
  • What brought joy to this person?
  • What are your feelings about their death?
  • What songs, poems or sacred texts most reflect what this person was like or express the kind of emotions you are feeling?

You might want to set up an altar with items that reflect this person. Perhaps you can include elements from the earth, like flowers or special rocks or water.

Take a moment to dip into your heart, finding a connection to that person, or a higher force. Light a candle or ring a bell, voice your intention for marking this time, or play a song or have a reading that reflects the life of the person who died. You, or perhaps another family member, could share memories of this person. You could even make a memory box or do something creative to honor your person. Voice your gratitude for how this person impacted your life. Play another song or have another reading then express your feelings about their death.  You could then have an inspirational reading that calls you to a larger perspective and place of hopefulness.  Blow out your candle or ring your bell to note the end of this ritual.

Rituals are a meaningful and important way to cope with our grief. Hosparus Health grief counselors are also available to help you further process feelings and find healing. Call 502-456-6200 to get connected to someone.

Here are a few other resources for showing support and reflection for funeral arrangements during this time:

Life Posts 

How to Write a Sympathy Card

Meal Train

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